Our Lady of Fatima... Pray for us.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament... Hear us.
Our Lady of the Rosary... Strengthen us.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Priorities, priorities...

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
    Have you heard the news? Have you seen Jimmy Kimmel reduced to tears? Have you felt the uproar that is sweeping the country? Have you heard that the White House may now get involved?
    Of course you have heard about this. It is on every news channel and in every paper.
    If you just crawled out from beneath a rock, some dentist went to Zimbabwe on a big game hunt. This dude fancies himself as some expert with a bow and arrow. The fact of the matter is, he is an expert with a bow and arrow. I have seen the photos and he has killed a bear, a cheetah and a rhino.
    From the photos that I saw, he was able to do all of this with a bow and arrow.
    Now I am guessing that his bow and arrow is a little more powerful than the one we gave to Noah for Christmas. I mean it has to be to down a rhino, right?
    Could you imagine coming face to face with a stampeding rhino armed only with a bow and arrow?
I got to give the doctor props for having the guts to track these animals down and square off mano v. animalo! Wow, staring down a lion and calmly pulling an arrow out of a quiver and hitting the bullseye... a la Robin Hood.
     What a stud!
     What's that? He didn't really come face to face with his prey? He lured him out of a protected land by placing a dead deer on the back of a car and driving it out into unprotected land. Then when the lion came to the drive thru, the dentist shot and killed it, er uh shot and wounded it? He then had to track it for several hours before shooting it dead?
     And get this, he shot the only lion in Africa that every African knows by name! If Norm from Cheers was a lion, that is that lion that this guy shot! The poor lion's name was Cecil.
     Cecil was a good lion that entertained the folks. Not really sure how he did that. I am guessing that he was like Alex from the movie Madagascar! Or he sang and danced like Simba from the Lion King.
Whatever he did, he did it for thirteen years and he ain't doing it anymore!
     Thousands of people have flocked to the dentist's office to leave stuffed animals, making the office a shrine to poor Cecil. The office has been shut down.
     Now, I have to come clean. I think that what the dentist did was kind of reprehensible, but I gotta say, the response is just as outrageous. I read an article that properly pointed out that this lion spent his life urinating in the grass, licking his rear end and eating zebras. He didn't sing or dance at all.
     I also looked up the life expectancy of a lion. Do you want guess what the life expectancy for a lion is in the wild? About fifteen years. Cecil only had about one or two more good years left in him. By the way, the life span for a lion in captivity is twenty to twenty-five years. Some could argue that Cecil would have been better off living is some zoo. I wouldn't, but some could.
     On Thursday, the White House announced that they will review a public petition to extradite the American who allegedly killed Cecil. Let me repeat that... the White House announced that they will review a public petition to extradite the American who allegedly killed Cecil! With all that is happening in the world, I am not sure how this controversy worked its way up to the top of the agenda.
     You would think that the dentist killed the Archduke Ferdinand.
     Again, the fact that a lion was killed does not appear to be a big deal. However, the way that this lion was killed is awful and hardly sporting. Cecil deserved a better way to go... and the doctor deserves to be punished. But the punishment needs to fit the crime.
     Based on everything that I have seen, I think there has been a little bit of overkill... pardon the pun!
     In other news... thousands of babies are being aborted, and their baby parts are being sold. You've heard about this, right?
     Assuming that the doctors at the abortion facilities can perform the operation in such a way to preserve the babies' vital organs, those organs can be sold. If the organs are sold for a profit... or if the doctors modify the approved procedure in order to preserve those organs... the facility and/or the doctor may be in violation of federal law.
    To watch the callous way that these doctors and medical directors discuss the harvesting and selling of these organs is pretty gut wrenching. To watch them actually harvest these organs after the babies have been killed is even worse.
    By the way... the organization performing these abortions receives over half a billion dollars in federal money.
    Have you seen this story? I mean this should be the lead story on every news program. Am I wrong about this? I mean no lions were harmed, but there appears to be something sinister going on.
     I am sure there will be an immediate effort to leave little baby dolls at the doors of these facilities. I am sure that people will force these clinics to shut down their businesses. I am sure that all of the late night comedians will be reduced to tears.
    We have to do something, don't you think?
    Oh I know... let's start a petition!
    Maybe, just maybe... we can get on the White House's agenda.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Newport...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband, Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     Cheryl's mom grew up in Newport, Rhode Island.
     You've heard of Newport... the Vanderbilts, the Astors, Doris Duke (of... gulp... Duke University fame, not to be confused with Daisy Duke) and the Bouviers (of Jackie O. fame) have all, at one time or another, owned homes in Newport. Perhaps Daisy Duke did too, but I cannot be sure of that. I can be sure that the Vanderbilts and Astors competed with one another to see who could build the most ostentatious "summer cottage." And by "summer cottage" I really mean mansion. Ah, the Gilded Age.
The Breakers

     For those of you that are familiar with Maryland, Newport is a lot like Annapolis... only on steroids. Newport is an island surrounded by the beautiful shores of the Atlantic Ocean and Narragansett Bay.

Bowen's Wharf
     The homes in are unbelievable... especially the ones on the ocean. The city of Newport is full of richness and opulence.
     Everyone should try to get to Newport, and if you do, hit the Black Pearl and have some clam chowder, tour the "summer cottages," fly kites at Brenton Point, have a drink and watch the sunset at Ocean Cliff, spend a day or two at one of the numerous beaches, walk the cliff walk and take a boat tour.  
The Cliff Walk

     You may think Newport is just for the rich and famous. Not so. Some other Newport natives include Mrs. Norman, Mrs. Question Mark, the Balls, the Misorskis and the Speros. I am guessing that none of you have ever heard of these folks.
     Well, "Mrs. Norman" was the name that my then-eight-year-old mother-in-law gave herself, as she and her friend, "Mrs. Question Mark" (I guess they couldn't come up with a definite name for her) strolled down through the wealthy neighborhood looking for dropped gems. Irene Ball was my mother-in-law's best friend (the aforementioned Mrs. Question Mark), the Misorskis were my mother-in-law's neighbors, and the Speros were my mother-in-law's.
     Unfortunately, these were the poor people of Newport.
     Think about this, if things had been a little bit different, I could have married a Vanderbilit.  "Mark Vanderbilt" has a nice ring to it... and yes, I would have changed my name for obvious reason$.
     The first time that I visited Newport was almost twenty-five years ago. Cheryl and I were engaged, and I was going up to meet my mother-in-law's family. Several of Cheryl's aunts and uncles were still living in Newport.
     Both Cheryl and I come from large families with Italian heritage. My dad's family all spoke Italian. In fact, whenever the matriarch of our family, my Aunt Mary, called our house, she started out in broken English and would sprint to the finish line in full-out Italian... only my dad could understand her.
     The Speros were an Italian family that never spoke a word of Italian... with the exception of the word for refrigerator, which they referred to as the Ice-a Boxxa! Their thinking was that if you live in America... you speak English.
     The matriarch of the Speros was Cheryl's Aunt Marie, but everyone knew her as Aunt Toots. She counted her beach days, wrote to Cheryl's mom weekly, and never met a Pepperidge Farm cake she didn't want to pull out of the freezer and serve her visitors. She ultimately came to own the Spero family home... complete with "THE DOOR."
     THE DOOR was a kitchen door that had a photo of anyone who was anyone in the family. On that first visit, the pressure was on me to "make THE DOOR." If Aunt Toots liked me, my mug was going up on THE DOOR. If not, the wedding was off!
     Some said it could have been my one-way ticket out of my wedding, but at the time, I kind of dug Cheryl.
     I met every one of Cheryl's local aunts and uncles on that first visit.
     Like I said, Aunt Toots was the matriarch. Through the years, every Sunday, one by one, the rest of the family would pop in after church for fresh toasted rolls and coffee.
     Uncle Mike served in WWII and, like his father, was a barber. Eventually, he had the coolest barber chair I'd ever seen, right in the middle of his house. Though tender-hearted to Cheryl, he was kind of opinionated, and was not afraid to give his opinion... even to his niece's "long-haired" fiance.
     Uncle Vito (for those of you who are not Italian, all Italian families have an Uncle Vito) was a retired police officer who had great stories of his time on the force. One of my biggest regrets is seeing a post card with John Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy on their wedding day (in Newport) with a young police officer at their side. I am sure that it was Uncle Vito. Unfortunately, I did not buy that postcard. Uncle Vito was always a hit with Cheryl's brother and sisters, as he always had a cookout when they visited, complete with grilled hot dogs, colored marshmallows, and little pop-em firecrackers and confetti poppers.
     Uncle Chuck, who may be the most interesting man alive, took us sailing every time we visited, and at 94 years old, he still goes out with his son-in-law.  
     There was Aunt Philomena, but everyone called her Aunt Dolly, or "Auntie Giggles"... for her pleasant disposition... and abundance of Oreo cookies... Have a cookie... don't tell your mother!
     Rounding out the Spero clan was Uncle Anthony, gentle and kind. Cheryl recalls that when she was little, Uncle Anthony would smile, rocking in Aunt Toots' rocking chair near the kitchen window, smoking a pipe. Cheryl still loves the smell of pipe tobacco... and we have that rocking chair.
     Aunt Teddy, fun and adventurous, had moved out west years before... and Aunt Helen who was always good to go the beach with Cheryl's family, also hosted a summer pool party cookout or two.  Sadly, she passed away when Cheryl was a teenager.
     This past week, Cheryl took our boys up to Newport for a visit.
Cheryl's blowout.  Slight setback, but everybody safe and sound. 

     Grace and I stayed home, as we had to work. Unfortunately, Cheryl had a blowout on the way up, and although everyone was okay, I decided to fly up by week's end and help with the drive home.
     Of course, it doesn't hurt that I love Newport.
Gooseberry Beach

     Today, I sat on the beach and thought about our times in Newport... and about Cheryl's family.
As it turns out, the Vanderbilts had nothing on the Speros... except, of course, a ton of cash!
     With the exception of my mother-in-law's stories, I always loved sitting and listening to the tales these folks would tell of growing up in Newport. Each had a different story to tell of life in Newport.
     Just kidding about my mother-in-law's stories... I enjoy her stories, too. I just want to make sure she is paying attention to me.
     In fact, my personal favorite Newport story involving my mother-in-law is that she loves Brenton Point. She loves it so much that she always has said that when she dies, she wishes she could have her ashes sprinkled there. Every time I go there with her, I offer to push her off the rocks and into the water thus saving everyone an extra trip up (just kidding Grammy!).
We all love Brenton Point!

     By the way, you know why my mother-in-law has to pay attention to me? Because Aunt Toots loved me. Was there ever any doubt?  My picture went up on that door before I ever left Newport on that first visit.
     I am in the family and there is nothing she can do about it!!!  
     And you know what? I don't think, either one of us would have it any other way!

     Editor's note...  Five years ago I wrote about a time when Mark and I took the kids to Newport. See here.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Did you know I almost died?...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     As you might recall, I went under the knife last week.
     Well, not exactly under the knife, but I had a colonoscopy, and I am pretty sure they use a fairly sharp tube for that.
     Since I know that you were all wondering, I am clean as a whistle. Don't need to repeat that procedure for another ten years.
     But that doesn't mean that it all went well... I almost died!
     Not really died, as in dead and no longer living. More like during the pre-operative disclosure, the doctor mentioned that death was a possibility as a result of the anaesthesia.
     Isn't it always the anaesthesia that gets you?
     It wasn't really a big percentage of a chance... somewhere in the neighborhood of less than one-half percent. But death at a half percent is the same as death at a hundred percent. Now I am pretty certain I would have opted out of any procedure that resulted in 100% death, but I could live with the less than half percent.
     Now, having said that, apparently it was touch and go for a while. The very nice asian doctor sent me to "La La Land," but I did not snap back as quickly as everyone had expected.
     This is the best part: in recovery, Cheryl was by my side and was very concerned. Apparently, the anesthesiologist kept walking over with his clipboard, shouting "Wakey wakey!"... telling Cheryl that "He not need much!"
     Afterward, I joked about it, but she was visibly shaken by the whole experience. She added that when the doctor kept coming over to check on me, he was shaking me, monitoring my heart rate, and I was just lying there doing nothing.
     I am sure this is all pretty routine, but Cheryl was very concerned.
     In a weird way, knowing that Cheryl would be sad if I die makes me kind of happy!
     I only have two requests of Cheryl should I go first... Wear black every day for the rest of her life... and be sad! I don't think that I am asking too much of her.    
     I doubt she will wear black for the rest of her life, but at least now I know she will be sad!
    As she was recounting the story, she hugged me and as she walked away she stopped and turned and said...
    And another thing, what was that you were saying about breasts?
    When you finally came out of the anesthesia, you said something like, "I like breasts."
    Were we talking about chicken?
    No. I think I may have been asking you if you had a nice rest.
    Did anybody else hear my declaration of love? 
    No, but you also accused the nurse of trying to look up your skirt! 
    You mean my hospital gown? 
    Well, you said skirt.
    Was she?... because I think she kind of liked me.
     It could be that Cheryl wasn't really sad, but concerned about who would take care of all the stuff that I do around the house. For instance, if I am not here, who is going to change the toilet paper rolls? As it stands now, I think I am the only one in the family that knows how to work the roll holder.
     Who will take out the trash and remember that Thursday is trash day? It used to be Monday and Thursday but they changed that.
     Who will drive Noah to the grocery store and shop with him?
     Who will pay for dinner? Although, I don't think that Cheryl will be hurting for money. I have my  my own life insurance policies and a decent enough one through work, so if I go, Cheryl will be rolling in the cash. A few years ago, I was advising Cheryl of the policies and the amounts, when Grace overheard:
     So if you die, Mom is a millionaire?
     Yep, I guess so.
     That's awesome!
     You do know that the prerequisite for her getting the money is that I am dead and gone!
     Sure, but that is a lot of money. 
     Sweetie, if Mom the millionaire gets remarried and she and her lousy rotten no good gold digging new husband spend all the money, or worse, she puts his name on all the cash and she goes before he does, you get zero. My being alive and preventing Mom from getting remarried is the only thing that is keeping you from being homeless!  
     Then in my best Jack Nicholson voice, I continued... You need me in this house... You want me in this house!
     Grace saw the need for me to stick around. The boys, however, are a different story; they would be content with a new dad. We were watching the home run hitting contest the other night, and Noah asked how he could become one of the kids who runs around the field and gets the players Gatorade and a towel.
     Well, from looking at the backs of those boys' jerseys, you would have to be a son of one of the contestants. 
     How come you didn't play baseball?
     I did play baseball.
     Not good enough. You weren't good enough to be a major leaguer! 
     This is true.
     I wish you could have been a major leaguer. That would have been cool!
     Me too. By the way, have I told you that I almost died during my colonoscopy the other day? 
     Hey, do you think mom could marry a big leaguer if something happens to you? 

     Of course, I am joking about my wanting Cheryl to be sad.
     The way I see it is that I live my life a certain way with the belief that there is something better after this world. I believe in Heaven, just as I believe in Hell. My real hope is that Cheryl celebrates my life with the knowledge that I tried to do things right and as a reward for those efforts, am in a far better place. Although, just to be clear, I want her doing that celebration dressed in black for the rest of her life.
     So, until my time is up on this earth, I've got a beautiful wife that loves and cares about me. Three great kids and a clean colon... who could ask for anything more?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Magnesium Citrate and Dulcolax? Oh goodie...

Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     What a night I am having!
     It started out with me downing two bottles of Magnesium Citrate.... chased with four tablets of Dulcolax. For those of you that are under the age of 50 and not in the pharmacy business... Magnesium Citrate is a Saline Laxative Oral Solution and Dulcolax is a laxative.
     And get this, I get to wake up at 4:00 a.m. and down another bottle of Magnesium Citrate... I prefer the lemon flavor.  
     Yummy!!!! Think of the sweetest gatorade that you can possibly imagine... with a salty aftertaste that goes down like... sludge!  
     You might be thinking that this is some crazy diet plan, I assure you that it is not. Although, I must admit, you could lose a lot of weight with this regimen... a lot of weight... I am talking a ton of weight!    
     No, this is no diet! This is prep for a procedure that every one over the age of 50 should be familiar with... a colonoscopy.
     Yes, I know it is hard to believe that I am over the age of 50. If truth be told, I am going to be 52 next month and I scheduled... and cancelled... this same procedure two other times.
     I did a similar thing about twenty-five years ago, when I scheduled my dog to be neutered. I scheduled that one three or four times only to cancel it each and every time. People always say that it is the right thing to do for your pets. I am not so sure about that. I know that I would not have cared for that particular procedure.
    Anyway, things are moving along here in the Palumbo house (pardon the pun), and I am not very comfortable. Fortunately, I have my beautiful wife by my side making everything more tolerable.
    What's that? Cheryl is in Ocean City with a friend, and she is not by my side?
    She did call to ask how I was feeling and to find out what I ate all day!
    Nothing... I have not eaten a thing all day! 
    I know but you can have broth and Gatorade!
    You don't eat broth and Gatorade. 
    I know... I know... but what did you have?
    Nothing! Although the rest of the family ate pretty well. Noah taunted me with his eggplant Parmesan and Grandma stopped enjoying her cheese ravioli long enough to ask me three separate times if I wanted a bite. Each time followed with her groaning and repeating to nobody in particular "that's right, you can't eat anything!" 
    What can I do to help? Cheryl lovingly asked.
    Can you call me to wake me up at 4:00 a.m.? Make sure I am up to drink that stuff. It will be like you are here with me. I love you Baby! 
    You're kidding, right? So the same ring that you hear when you get a phone call won't wake you up if it's your alarm going off? You know how to set your cell phone alarm? Or maybe your regular alarm?
    She was referring to the same alarm that wakes me up every day while the rest of the family stays snuggled in their beds.   
    So after 23 years of marriage, this is what it comes down to... Cheryl would rather get her beauty rest at the beach than to be awake and miserable with me!
    I mentioned to Cheryl that I may not survive the procedure... although I must admit, I really have not heard any horror stories about colonoscopies gone bad. Don't tell Cheryl this, but I was just trying to get some sympathy! I am not going to lie... I can be a baby before I go under the knife! Again, to be perfectly honest... I don't think anyone uses a knife... but don't let Cheryl know this.
    Cheryl kinda, sorta... went along with my bluff.
    I know, I know... it could be bad...that is why I took time away from my mini-getaway to call you!  Just in case I don't get a chance to talk to you again. 
    Honey, you're coming home tomorrow to drive me to the doctor's office.
    You mean you didn't get a friend to take you?! 
    Friday is the big day. I cannot wait to have it over and done with. I have heard all the jokes:

Things you might hear a doctor say during a colonoscopy:
     ... Hey, I think I might have found Jimmy Hoffa!
     ... You put your left hand in, you take your left hand out...

Things a patient might say:
     ... You know Doc, in a few states (well, now all of them), we can now consider ourselves married.
     ... Can you please tell my wife that my head is not up in there! 

    In all seriousness, don't be like me and put these things off. I was prompted by my friend PJ to get this done, after he recently had triple-bypass surgery. I mentioned this little inspirational tidbit to another friend and he inquired... How did PJ's heart get you to thinking about your rear end? 
    I think that my point is to be proactive and not wait for the disaster to hit. I will also be scheduling a stress test for sometime in the next few months. In retrospect, I should have done the stress test first because I understand that there is no need to clean out your system for that one!  
    So that is it... that is my lesson for the day. Be proactive with your health!
    Now if you don't mind... I have got to go!!!! 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Statewide voter suppression in Maryland...

     Today, an article from the Baltimore Sun caught my eye.  It's about gerrymandering reform in Maryland. 
     It got me thinking about a blog post I had written after the last mid-term elections, but never got around to posting.  I think I wanted to let a little time pass before I posted something I had written while so. very. angry.  That's a thing... Isn't it? Never put something in writing when you are angry?
     The post was about voter suppression in Maryland.  
     Suppression... disenfranchisement... deprivation... Whatever you want to call it. 
     But it may not be what you think. 
     It wasn't those cheating Republicans, as the media's drumbeat goes. 
     It was all but six Democrats in the Maryland legislature, with the signature of then-Governor Martin O'Malley, Democrat. 
     Perfectly legal, I guess... because they voted it into law in 2012 (see vote details here). 
     And oh. so. perfectly. effective. 
     Click here for the history of the 2012 redistricting plan.
     The Republicans had offered a plan that looked like this (see map just below), grouping swaths of the state pretty much by counties with shared commonalities. But it was rejected.

Just below is the map that passed instead.  
Click here to see the 2002 map that this one replaced. 
Click here to see its predecessor from 1991. 

     Look at those convoluted districts. The party in power does this for only one reason. To stay in power.
     I happen to live in District 4 (see the map... bright pink/central Maryland), which meanders from the rural Chesapeake Bay clear across and around the top of District 5 to the heavily urban nation's capital. Conservatives in our suburban/rural Anne Arundel County neighborhoods will always be silenced in this district by a margin of nearly 3-1 because of the densely populated urban voters of Western Prince George's County. The same is true for conservatives in District 6/Western Maryland, whose votes were muffled by the densely populated Montgomery County liberals.
     I wonder why we should even bother to vote in the Congressional elections anymore. The deck is stacked. My voice will never matter. They have silenced me. 
     After this redistricting, there had been an effort to put a referendum on the ballot for the 2012 General Election, but by then, it was too late for that election anyway... the voters were already voting in their newly drawn gerrymandered districts. Plus, the wording of the Ballot Question was so vague, it looked more like a procedural technicality based on new census data than anything else, given that there was no map or explanation.  Here's how it appeared on the ballot:

Question 5
Referendum Petition
(Ch. 1 of the 2011 Special Session)
Congressional Districting Plan

Establishes the boundaries for the State's eight United States Congressional Districts based on recent census figures, as required by the United States Constitution.

For the Referred Law
Against the Referred Law

     The measure passed almost 2-1. I seriously doubt that hundreds of thousands of voters statewide knew that this new redistricting plan would silence their votes.
     But the legislature knew.
     Here is the vote breakdown by county for Question 5.

     This is the way Maryland voted for Governor in the recent 2014 Gubernatorial Election (scroll down when you click on the link to see the map). The red counties voted Republican, and the blue counties and independent Baltimore City voted Democrat. The three counties bordering Washington, DC (Montgomery, Prince George's, and Charles counties) traditionally contain heavy populations of Democratic voters. The same is true with Baltimore City.  In the 2012 gerrymandering, Democrat lawmakers drew from those counties for seven out of eight of Maryland's districts in such a way as to deliberately cancel out the votes of the conservatives in all but District 1.

     Here are the votes in the 2014 mid-term Congressional races, by district.  You will note that large Democratic populations from the blue counties pop up in every district but District 1.

Representative in Congress

Congressional District 1

Bill Tilghman
Andy Harris
Other Write-Ins
Queen Anne's5,81513,04616
Totals72,396 (29.4%)173,617 (70.5%)226 (.1%)

Congressional District 2
C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger
David Banach
Ian Schlakman
Other Write-Ins
Anne Arundel11,0926,46646615
Baltimore City12,2171,83036318
Totals117,873 (61.3%)69,206 (36%)5,171 (2.7%)195 (.1%)

Congressional District 3

John Sarbanes
Charles A. Long
Other Write-Ins
Anne Arundel32,37032,78080
Baltimore City30,40711,58793
Totals125,436 (59.5%)85,212 (40.4%)316 (.1%)

Congressional District 4

Donna F. Edwards
Nancy Hoyt
Arvin Vohra
Other Write-Ins
Anne Arundel21,91344,1801,60552
Prince George's108,3608,9121,091142
Totals130,273 (69.9%)53,092 (28.5%)2,696 (1.4%)194 (.1%)

Congressional District 5

Steny H. Hoyer
Chris Chaffee
Dennis L. Fritz
(Write In)
Other Write-Ins
Anne Arundel8,37011,983NR36
Prince George's75,73014,66895141
St. Mary's14,03817,803NR58
Totals140,979 (63.9%)79,171 (35.9%)95 (0%)454 (.2%)

Congressional District 6

John K. Delaney
Dan Bongino
George Gluck
Other Write-Ins
Totals92,086 (49.6%)89,875 (48.4%)3,630 (2%)134 (.1%)

Congressional District 7
Elijah Cummings
Corrogan R. Vaughn
Scott Soffen
Other Write-Ins
Baltimore City71,8393,8041,40173
Totals140,729 (69.7%)55,030 (27.3%)5,948 (2.9%)203 (.1%)

Congressional District 8

Chris Van Hollen
Dave Wallace
Lih Young
(Write In)
Andrew Jaye Wildman
(Write In)
Other Write-Ins
Totals132,367 (60.5%)85,980 (39.3%)2 (0%)35 (0%)458 (.2%)

     Investment analyst David Merkel wrote about this more than two years ago, creating a map that had simple, sensical borders, divided mostly along county lines (similar to the Republican plan - see map above):

"(This) map is my creation.  Given the odd geography of Maryland, I think it does a good job of creating equal districts amid the diverse cultural geography of Maryland.
  1. Western Maryland (rural)
  2. The Eastern Shore (rural)
  3. Southern Maryland along the Chesapeake Bay (suburban/rural)
  4. Montgomery County near DC (urban)
  5. Prince George’s County with Charles County to the South (urban)
  6. Baltimore County less its southern fringe (suburban/urban)
  7. Baltimore City w/Baltimore County’s southern fringe (urban)
  8. Central Maryland (suburban/rural)

   Hmm... gerrymander reform.  Maryland desperately needs it.  I'll believe it when I see it.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Meet you at the Turtle...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband, Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
    The Fourth of July is tomorrow.
     As long as I can remember, my hometown of Bowie, Maryland, had a fireworks display. I remember way back when they used to have the fireworks at the Bowie Race Track.
     While I am on the topic of the Race Track... several years ago, I was attending the funeral of a good friend's father. The deceased was a long time football coach in the Bowie Boys Club. The family had several articles posted at the funeral home about teams their dad had coached. As I read one of the articles, I was a bit shocked to read a recounting of a game between the Bowie 125 pound football team and the jockeys from the Race Track.
     I though to myself: These were grown men... albeit small grown men.... playing against young boys. This had to be a recipe for disaster. What parent would have allowed their young son to compete in a game against a bunch of men? 
     As I read the article, I was shocked to see that the quarterback for the Bowie squad was none other than Joe Palumbo, my oldest brother! When I asked him about the game, he recalled that the first half was not so bad... but the jockeys came back after halftime a little bit drunk.
     I am guessing they got a little vodka with their orange slices!   
     As the years passed and the Race Track closed, the fireworks display was moved to Allen Pond.
     People flocked there, but I never did. My dad always bought fireworks for our back yard.
     Then when I got old enough and wanted to see the Bowie fireworks, I would always try to find someplace high enough to see the display, but far enough away that I did not have to actually drive into... or out of... that mess. Some of the best locations like my local elementary school or the Home Depot parking lot, became just as crowded as the Allen Pond lots.
    The pyrotechnics display had been a regular part of the Independence Day celebration in Bowie for year and years... until this year.
     Sadly, the city is not having fireworks this year.
     Apparently, a few years ago, the whole event got switched to the local Minor League Baseball Team's stadium. In the worst planning ever, the Baysox have a home game on the 4th and the stadium is not available to the city. This seems a bit silly because the Baysox have fireworks all the time and had a display on July 4th for years. In fact, the Home Depot parking lot was primo because you could catch both the baseball team display and the city's Allen Pond display.
    This was one of the reasons that I became reluctant to return to the Home Depot lot... because it was getting too crowded. It gave me the perfect opportunity to use one of my favorite Yogi Berra sayings: Nobody goes there anymore because it is too crowded! 
     I was saddened by this news, and it started me thinking about growing up in Bowie.
     What a great place to grow up! A simpler time, for sure.
     If you are not from Bowie, it is a Levittown community with about four or five different types of houses. It is divided up into several different sections: the Kenilworth Section, the Foxhill Section, the Meadowbrook Section, the Somerset Section, the Buckingham Section, and so on.
     Of course, these sections all shortened to the K section, the F section, The M section , The S section, the B section. You get the idea. Oh... and every section had its own elementary school, so you were sure to know all the kids in your section.
     Every street in the K Section began with the letter K and so on. This ensured complete confusion if you ever got lost. Every street sounded just like the others until you somehow managed to weave your way out of the Kenilworth labyrinth and into a different section.
     We protected our sections like gangs protecting their turf. So if you ever did manage to cross into the wrong section, you could get knifed.
     Not really.
     I mean, nobody got knifed... but we did sometimes play the kids from the L section in Nerf basketball... and that could get pretty heated at times!
    The L section was pretty cool because you could go through the L section, over the railroad tracks and up a hill to the greatest store in the history of Bowie: J-Mart. I don't remember what all they sold at J-Mart... except candy and gum and ice cream. What else did a kid need?
     J-Mart was not the only great shopping experience in Bowie.
     We also had the Belair Shopping Center, which subsequently became the Market Place. I know that the Belair Shopping Center had stores and such, but what I remember most was the Turtle. Not the Greene Turtle Restaurant... but an actual cement Turtle that was located in a concrete courtyard surrounded by a low stone fence. If you were not running along the stone fence, you were climbing on that Turtle.
    This spot was so great that Santa chose it as his Bowie winter workshop... not to be confused with  the creepy big Easter Bunny that later set up shop outside of the Arlans in the new mall (the one that was built on Boswell Field) complete with the coolest water fountain ever... with changing colored lights and everything! That water fountain was as modern as it got in Bowie... but the Bunny was creepy!
     Not as creepy as the Goat Man... But that is an urban legend for another day.
     I remember that we rode our bikes or walked wherever we would go. We played ball (whatever ball was in season), we went to the local pool or park, and we went to friends' homes. If you couldn't ride your bike or walk there, you simply would not go.
     Some days we would be gone for hours at a time... without a cell phone.
     I know... you all just gasped at the thought of that!
     And we all survived!!!
     In fact, we all survived with only one phone in the house and no call-waiting. I find it fascinating that my kids don't even know what a busy signal is.
     The Bowie Boy's Club was the best. You played with kids from all over Bowie and the level of talent was pretty remarkable. Hundreds of kids would try out for the best teams, and it was an honor to make the "A" team. There were plenty of kids for B teams and intramural leagues. Hundreds of kids participating and the best kids made the best teams and only winners got trophies. If you hit a home run, you got a burger at the local Hardee's or a free Slurpee.
     During football season, if you were ever lucky enough to have the Friday night or Saturday night  game at Whitemarsh, you had the privilege and the opportunity to shine in front of the biggest crowds. I still recall one Saturday night when some 10-year-old kid threw for more than three-hundred yards and five touchdowns in one game. I am sure it is something that he will remember for the rest of his life.
     Kid was a stud. Handsome little guy. Rumor has it that he grew up to be a funny guy.
     In our family, no matter where we were during the day, we'd better have made it home for dinner. My dad had the perfect system. He had this unmistakeable whistle.
     Every night at dinner time, he would whistle for us to come home. Often this was right in the middle of a game of Hill Dill, Kick the Can, or Get Tough (I think this game was unique to our street... one guy had the ball and everyone else tackled him and the runner had to "GET TOUGH"). Every once in a while, as we would scurry on home, a new kid would suggest that we just claim that we did not hear the whistle and continue playing.
     Someone would always explain to him that this strategy was not an option. If we couldn't hear the whistle, we were too far from the house at dinner time! That would make my dad very upset. We couldn't personally stay to explain it all to the kid because we were too busy getting our rear ends home!
     Once the new guys got to know my dad, they understood.
     It just occurred to me that my dad's whistle may have been the equivalent of a group text message!
     Bowie was a great place to grow up.
     I was the youngest of six kids and was at the tail end of much of the great stuff. For instance, I never played on Boswell Field and was probably only five- or six-years-old when we were at the peak of playing Get Tough. I doubt they were jamming me up whenever I had the ball... on second thought, they probably did. After all, I had to GET TOUGH!
     I find it sad that this type of childhood seems to be disappearing.
     Kids don't leave the house in the morning only to return home in time for dinner. The good athletes play on "select" or "travel" teams with kids from different cities and sometimes different states. There are no J-Marts to walk to, and Heaven forbid that parents let their kids cross the railroad tracks.
    You never see a bunch of drunk jockeys playing football against a bunch of young kids... okay, I will concede that not all of it was a good idea.
    But the worst thing of all... you never see kids just climbing on a turtle while their parents shop.
    Things just seemed to be less complicated when I was a kid. I suppose, you could say that growing up back in the day is analogous to the turtle...
    The perfection was in the simplicity!
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